Interview with M.S. in Innovation & Management Director Kevin Oye - Gordon Institute
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OyeTufts Gordon Institute is pleased to welcome Kevin Oye as Director of the new M.S. in Innovation & Management degree program. A Jumbo himself, Kevin returns to Tufts with 35 years of experience leading product development, corporate strategy, and merger and acquisition teams. We recently sat down to ask Kevin about his vision for the intersection of engineering, entrepreneurship, business, and leadership. 

Tufts Gordon Institute: What made you interested in joining Tufts University’s Gordon Institute as the director of the newly launched M.S. in Innovation and Management program?

Oye: We live in an increasingly technically complex world, where being able to harness the power of science, math, and technology to solve our most challenging problems will be key. Just knowing the technology isn’t enough; it takes a cross functional team to create new products and services that can be delivered in a compelling and sustainable way. To build such a team, you need people who are not only technically sharp, but also understand the language of business and possess the people skills to persuade, negotiate, and lead others. With the faculty we have at the Gordon Institute and the rest of Tufts University, we have the ideal environment to create a unique and powerful program that in one intensive year, will give technically sharp people the skills to drive innovation and impact on a broader scale, and be leaders in making our world a better place.

Tufts Gordon Institute: How do you see the M.S. in Innovation and Management uniquely positioned to help recent STEM graduates? Why would you recommend the program now versus entering the workforce?

Oye: Earning a technical degree takes a big commitment of time and energy as an undergraduate, but to be able to drive impact beyond only technical contributions in any organization requires a deep understanding of the language of business and people skills to know how to persuade, negotiate, and lead others. Our MSIM program not only gives strong technical students this knowledge, but also includes a hands-on capstone project where they’ll apply the knowledge in an integrated way to solve a challenging problem. By completing this program, they’ll launch into the world, whether it be in a start up or an on going enterprise, a for-profit or a non-profit, with a greater ability to tackle complex challenging problems and drive innovative solutions.

Tufts Gordon Institute: STEM graduates are in high demand but news articles highlight the fact that there is a shortage of qualified workers due to a lack of candidates with communication and leadership skills. How do you see the MSIM filling this gap?

Oye: Individuals may have ideas, but it’s the ability to persuade, negotiate, and lead others that translates these ideas into actions that make good things happen. Imagine the power an individual can have if they have both the technical skills to generate ideas, and the people skills to influence and lead others. We bring these skills, along with immersion in the language of business, to our MSIM students, empowering them to be people who can drive innovation.

Tufts Gordon Institute: Given your wealth of experience in leading and forming global technology teams, what skill sets and attributes did you look for when hiring new team members?

Oye: I look for people who are naturally curious and creative as they will continuously absorb and discover new knowledge, and find compelling ways to solve challenging problems. It’s critical they also have a high B:E ratio, a high brain to ego ratio, as people with big brains and small egos have the confidence to have their own point of view while also having the humility to listen and strive to understand others. Wisdom is often found in collaborations.

Tufts Gordon Institute: As someone with 35 years of executive experience in leading new product initiatives and technologies in both start up and corporate environments, what’s one lesson learned you’d share?

Oye: Never be afraid to ask a question. You may think you’re surrounded by experts who know more than you, and maybe they do, but your question may lead to an unexpected insight into the challenge being faced. In explaining the answer to you, the experts themselves may gain insight into an issue, for the act of explaining or teaching another person brings deeper understanding.